When impeccable character meets insoluble crime
SO... WHO IS SADAGOPAN?
A 1972 IPS cadre officer. A person of upright character. Impeccable track record in Tamil Nadu police for 38 years. Precisely the reasons for which Madras High Court appoints him as a special investigator to go into the role of Sesha in the massacre of 73 Kannadigas.
Sadagopan looks more like a mathematics professor than an ace cop. Though the world has moved towards progressive lenses, he still uses a pair of bifocal spectacles, which adds respectability to his personality. Post-retirement indulgence in tasty food has left him with a small paunch, which looks more pronounced because of his lean structure, and earns him the taunts of his wife. To pacify her, he has been climbing the stairs to his third-floor apartment everyday.
Sadagopan knows Mythili from her childhood. He was her neighbour in Srirangam. Her father and he were buddies from school days. And this—that he is a family friend of Mythili— was enough for Zarina’s lawyer, the one who was prosecuting Sesha, to trash Sadagopan’s findings.
Has he let down Mythili? Has his acquaintance with Mythili’s family turned out to be his undoing? He curses himself for accepting this assignment. All his achievements would be forgotten and only this would be remembered.
He is a trained cop. He can’t afford to feel diffident. He can’t accept defeat till has put in his best. The judgement is just a few days ahead. A chance viewing of an innocuous documentary aired by a TV channel to mark the 2nd anniversary of the killing of Kannadigas offers him an interesting lead. In the next couple of action packed two days, he comes up with incontrovertible proof.
That is Sadagopan. He fights till the last. And he succeeds.
But then when Sesha faces sexual harassment charge, see what he has to say to Mythili when she seeks his help in proving Sesha’s innocence: ‘Sexual harassment cases are not pursued to the end. The trial does not happen in courtrooms, especially when the accused is a celebrity; it happens in the studios of TV channels. We don’t ever come to know whether the charge was real or false. The alleged perpetrator lives with a constant blemish on his character. They’ve learnt to live with this. Perhaps Sesha also has to…’
Is he giving up before even trying?
About the Book:
Educated, young, no-nonsense bearing, able administrator—these are the qualities that won Sesha the loyalties of the people after three years of rule as the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. An allegation that he was the mastermind behind the murder of 73 Kannadigas threatens to bring him down but he is miraculously saved in the 11th hour.
Even before he can relish his victory, Sesha is slapped with the charge of sexually offending a young nurse. This time round, the case is strong and his supporters are uncertain. Worse, his teenage daughter calls him 'vile' and walks out of the house. While Mythili, his wife promises her full support, her secretive activities—undertaken with the help of a retired cop—is a cause of concern for Sesha.
Will Zarina, the human-rights activist, succeed in bringing him down? What about the insinuations of a celebrity lawyer that he is casteist and antiminorities? When the young nurse is found dead, the case becomes even more complex. Who is innocent? Who is guilty? And who is the mastermind?
About the Author:
Hariharan Iyer is a finance professional based in Dar es Salaam. Not content with just a rewarding corporate job, he took to writing a couple of years back. He blogged on media and current affairs for a year at valadyviews.blogspot.com before hitting on the idea for this novel. An idea so powerful that it convinced the accountant in him that he could put together not just a balance sheet but an intriguing political thriller as well. He has definite views on politics, NGOs and media ethics and has tried to package them in the form of an interesting novel.
Hariharan lives with his wife in Dar es Salaam while his two sons are pursuing their ambitions in India.
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Enjoy an Excerpt
Enjoy an Excerpt
Hebbar spotted the Chrompet outlet, his maiden venture, a hundred
metres away, across the road, beyond the divider, next to Vetri theatre. He
would have to go all the way to the flyover, which was a kilometre away and
do a U-turn beneath it to reach the restaurant. He was excited to visit the
place. It had been a year since he had visited the restaurant. From the humble
500-sq.ft eatery he’d started 40 years ago, it had grown to a two-storey
building—a non-A/C dining hall on the ground floor and an A/C hall on the
first floor. There was underground parking for 20 cars.
A huge flex banner announcing the fortieth anniversary with his and
Padmavathy’s photographs covered the entire frontage of the restaurant.
Madhav had told him that he had identical banners in all their outlets.
He saw a small crowd in front of the restaurant. Just around 30 to 40
persons. Did Madhav send him to manage this small crowd? Anyway, it was
an opportunity to spend a day in the restaurant, after almost 10 years of being
away. He smiled. As he neared, he intuitively felt that something was wrong.
The crowd did not look like one of enthusiastic customers waiting for their
turn. Two Tata Safaris parked haphazardly in the front with their doors wide
open warned him of something amiss. Then, the sight of a few customers
looking terrified and running out of the restaurant caused a queasy feeling in
his stomach. The problem was different and perhaps more serious than
handling a few unruly customers. He slowed the car a bit to get a clear view
of what was happening. Did he see smoke emanating from inside? The honks
of impatient cars from behind forced him to move fast.
He speeded up towards the flyover to take a U-turn. It would be at least
fifteen minutes in this heavy traffic. He had no option. The timer in the traffic
signal below the flyover tested his patience. 79…78…77…
An auto driver passed by him, stopped just in front of him and killed the
He was too impatient to curse the auto driver. 3…2…1… Oops! The auto
refused to start. Other vehicles behind him moved left, passed by him and
turned around. He could not navigate around the auto.
His restaurant seemed to be burning and he was stuck in this mindless
Finally, when the auto responded to the driver’s frantic efforts and started,
the traffic light had turned red. Shit! He waited for the next green light and
turned around and reached the restaurant. By then, the damage had been
done. The building was in flames.
“Kannada naygala, savungada!” A deafening chorus welcomed him. As he
got down from his car, he saw a few men whose looks did not give him much
comfort, throw their sickles and hockey sticks in the boot and board the
vehicles. The doors were slammed shut and the vehicles started with a
screech. Who were they? Why did the vehicles carry the ruling Progressive
Democratic Party’s (PDP) flags?
The shutter at the entrance had been rolled down and locked. Why? Loud
screams for help came from behind the closed shutter.
Numbed by what was happening to the eatery he had bought and so
passionately developed, Hebbar remained mute till the observations of
someone in the crowd brought him to life.
“All the customers have been sent out. Only the workers have been burnt.
My workers. Have they been burnt alive? What is their fault? Being Kannadigas?
“They should have anticipated this; at least they should not have indulged
in these overt celebrations,” said another in the crowd.
Anticipated? How? Hebbar’s knees wobbled. His cell phone rang. His
General Manager was calling.
“Sir, bad news. All our restaurants in Chennai have been attacked.”
All his restaurants in Chennai? Adyar and Thiruvanmiyur as well? What had
happened to Padmavathy? Madhav?
He called his wife.
Her phone kept ringing.
He called his son.
His phone kept ringing.
He learned two hours later that they were not alive to take his calls.About the Tour
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